Cade Cunningham was incredible in his debut campaign with the Detroit Pistons this past NBA season, being a Rookie of the Year candidate who may have deserved it more than anybody else after carrying a crazy burden for his team on both ends.
He started off the season slowly, especially from beyond the arc, an area where at first, he was worse than famously bad shooter Ben Simmons. Throughout the season he quickly improved, moving his shooting splits to a much more manageable 41.6 percent from the field, and 31.4 percent from three-point range.
These splits aren’t great, but there were other factors to his performance. Saddiq Bey had a rough season from three-point land which didn’t help the spacing and Jerami Grant did not provide much help for the rising star either.
Constant double teams from opponents also hindered the scoring efficiency of the star guard as the supporting cast the Pistons offered him was subpar at best throughout the season, although they ended the season with a strong run.
Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham near an All-Star level already
Outside of the efficiency, Cade Cunningham played at near an All-Star level, averaging 17.4 points, 5.6 assists, and 5.5 rebounds per game while playing solid defense, averaging 1.2 steals per game.
These stats are better than All-Star starter Andrew Wiggins, who only beat out Cunningham in efficiency from the field and from three, the Pistons’ star takes the trophy in every other stat.
In fact, there are multiple other All-Stars from last season who put up extremely similar stats to the 20-year-old rookie, those being Fred VanVleet, LaMelo Ball, and Darius Garland. The biggest difference between these All-Stars and Cunningham lays in the efficiency, where he falls well short of the stars.
With the addition of stronger lob threats and more spacing for the roster, Cunningham may see a large boost to his assist numbers as he made plenty of great plays that his teammates just failed to capitalize on last season.
Scoring may also become easier for the rising star as he puts on muscle and runs more shooting drills throughout the off season as the Detroit Pistons have valued hard work over anything else over the past few years.
To prove Cunningham has been working hard, he was even rostered for the Summer League until just a few short days before the first game to get more team practice in.
On top of this, the guard class in the Eastern Conference is not as strong as it is in the Western Conference. Especially if Kyrie Irving gets traded to the Los Angeles Lakers as rumors suggest he will.
The only thing that could potentially hold Cunningham back from making his All-Star debut is the team record, which is still a big question as the Detroit Pistons still boast an extremely young roster with little experience.
If he is able to lead the team to the play-in picture by the time All-Star selections are being made, then there will be little to no counter argument as Cunningham, as a rookie, is already playing on nearly the same level as many of the All-Stars selected last season.
With the new additions to the Detroit Pistons roster, and the improvement he will undoubtedly make in the off season, Cade Cunningham has a legitimate shot to be a second year All-Star next season.